QUESTION: As a U.C. Davis alumnus and Los Rios Community College faculty member, I am alarmed by the recent reduction in public access computers at Shields. While I’m pleased the library has been able to replace its aging computers with new ones, I find it greatly troubling that in the process it has replaced what were public access computers with computers inaccessible to “unaffiliated” patrons, including alumni and the faculty as well as students of the region’s other public post-secondary institutions, which count upon the University Library for many of their research needs.
I very much hope the university will better remember its obligations as a land-grant institution and as the flagship public research institution in the area and find some way to provide its “unaffiliated” patrons with the same level of access it has historically provided. If a significant number of public access computers are somehow problematic, perhaps it could provide login privileges to those patrons to whom it has already extended borrowing privileges.
ANSWER: Thank you for taking the time to write the library with your concerns. We are undergoing a review of public computers in all of our libraries and public comments are an important part of the conversation. If you’ve been using our computers you have certainly noticed that the number and quality of the PCs have dropped during the past few years of budget cutbacks. We are exploring how to best rectify this and, in light of constant technological changes, what sort of computer support our patrons need.
We have put up a survey
which we invite you to fill out. We are gathering comments on white boards, we are noting (in a very rough way) what types of sites are being used (academic, business, social media, news, etc), and we are soliciting comments from our primary user groups. Comments such as this will also be added to the conversation.
Once we have finished our information gathering work, my job will be to present solutions that take into consideration the needs of our primary users (students, faculty and staff), those of outside patrons, and of course — our technology budget in combination with future programmatic needs.
Again, I invite you to fill out the survey; share why access to UC Davis resources are useful to you and which technologies you prefer. I feel confident that we will always provide access to research materials to our public. However, UCD is very rare in offering the public unlimited (non-research) access to computers and the internet and in times of diminishing resources this privilege may change. We are exploring what our peer libraries do in regard to public access.
I appreciate your comments and especially your suggestion about linking computer use to library cards. It may be too limiting — but it is another approach to add to our discussion. UCD students and faculty, what are your thoughts?